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Zinedine Zidane 

Zinedine Zidane one of the best all time dribblers

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Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Yazid Zidane, (often incorrectly spelled Zinédine, Arabic: زين الدين زيدان‎ transliteration: Zīn ad-Dīn Zīdān), (born June 23, 1972), popularly nicknamed Zizou, is a former French football player of Kabyle Algerian descent who starred for both the French national team and for four club teams, most recently Real Madrid.

Zidane is often considered to be the best footballer of his generation and one of the greatest of all time. A midfielder, his elegant dribbling, balance, passing ability, shot accuracy, shot selection, and well-placed free kicks have made him one of the game's finest players and the natural successor of Michel Platini as France's top playmaker.

His precise control over the flow of the game and his ability to hold and protect the ball remain highly regarded.

Zidane received international attention with his two headed goals in the 1998 World Cup final against Brazil that essentially won his country's first ever title.

He has been elected FIFA World Player of the Year three times (1998, 2000, 2003), a record that has only been matched by Ronaldo, and once as European Footballer of the Year (1998). In 2004, Zidane was added to the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers selected by Pelé as part of FIFA's centenary celebrations.

As announced on 25 April 2006, Zidane retired from international football after the 2006 World Cup Final on 09 July 2006.

Club Career

Zidane was born in Marseille, France and raised in La Castellane, a government-sponsored housing project (cité HLM) in the northern suburbs of Marseille (the "Quartiers Nord"). Though born in Marseille, Zidane has never played for Olympique de Marseille. Zidane got his start in football at an early age, when he joined the US Saint-Henri club.

He moved on to Septemes Sports Olympiques after Saint-Henri's coach convinced its director to sign him. After leaving Septemes at the age of 14, Zidane participated in the first year junior selection for the league championship. He was called in for three days at the sport regional centre in Aix-en-Provence, where Jean Varraud, AS Cannes' recruiter, took notice of the French-Algerian player.

Zidane ventured off to Cannes for what was intended to be a six-week stay, but he remained at the club for four years to play with professionals. After spending four years with Bordeaux, he was transferred to Italy's Juventus F.C. for a fee of £3 million.

In 2001, Zidane was transferred from Juventus to the Spanish club Real Madrid on a four-year contract. The transfer fee was €66 million, making him the most expensive player in football history.

His fellow Galacticos at Madrid included David Beckham, Raúl González, Luís Figo, Ronaldo, and Roberto Carlos. He scored a spectacular winning goal in a 2-1 win over the German team Bayer Leverkusen in the 2001-2002 Champions League Final in Glasgow's Hampden Park.

On 7 May 2006, Zidane played his last home game for Real Madrid at the famous Santiago Bernabéu stadium. His team-mates wore special jerseys that had "ZIDANE 2001 - 2006" written on the bottom of the club logo. As expected, the Real Madrid fans gave him a warm reception and kept cheering him throughout the whole game.

The opponent team was Villarreal CF and, unfortunately for Zidane, the game ended in a 3-3 draw. He scored the second goal for Real Madrid without any major celebration. After the game, Zidane swapped jerseys with Juan Roman Riquelme, the Villarreal CF and Argentinian midfielder. Zidane was given a massive ovation by spectators, which left him in tears.

International Career

Zidane holds dual citizenship of both France and Algeria, and therefore could have played for Algeria. However, Algerian national coach Abdelhamid Kermali denied him a position on the team, arguing that the young midfielder was "not fast enough".

Zidane earned his first cap on August 17, 1994, entering at the 63rd minute of a match against the Czech Republic. France was behind 2-0 when Zidane came to the pitch and subsequently scored two goals, which led to a 2-2 final result.

Zidane was a member of the French national football team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. During France's second match of the first round, he received a red card and a two-game suspension in a 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia for stomping on Saudi Arabia's team captain Fuad Amin.

Reports from people close to Zidane state that Amin had provoked him verbally. After scoring in the Penalty shootout against Italy in the Quarter Final, he scored his first and only regular goals during the tournament in the final against Brazil, leading his team to a 3-0 victory, with France winning its first ever World Cup championship. This was also the first time in 20 years that the host country's team had won the tournament.

Two years later, Zidane and France won the Euro 2000 championship. He helped his team reach the final with inspired play and important goals, in quarterfinals against Spain — via direct free kick — and a golden goal penalty against Portugal in semifinals.

Subsequently, his team was ranked the number one team in the world, and it was the first time since West Germany in 1976 that a team held both the World Cup and Euro titles.

Injuries prevented Zidane from performing at his best in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. France's attempt at defending their title was spectacularly unsuccessful; the team was eliminated in the first round without scoring a single goal. Zidane rushed back from his injury in time to play in France's last game, but could not perform at his usual level.

On August 12, 2004, after France lost in Euro 2004 to the eventual winners, the Greek national football team, Zidane retired from international football. However, after France experienced serious problems in attempting to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Zidane announced on August 3, 2005 that he was coming back to play for France.

He stated on his official website: "I have gone back on my decision, one year after I said it was categorical." On the same day, French teammate midfielder Claude Makélélé, who also quit the French team following Euro 2004, said he wanted to come out of international retirement as well, and in the same week, Lilian Thuram made the same announcement.

The trio made their competitive return in the 3-0 FIFA World Cup qualifier win against the Faroe Islands on September 3, 2005, and France went on to win their qualifying group.

On 25 April 2006, after an injury-plagued season at Real Madrid, Zidane announced that he would retire from professional football following his representing France in the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals to be held in Germany.

On May 27, 2006, Zidane earned his 100th cap for France with a 1-0 victory over Mexico at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on the outskirts of Paris. It was his last match in the stadium and he became only the fourth Frenchman after Marcel Desailly, Didier Deschamps and Lilian Thuram to earn a hundred national caps. He was substituted early in the second half.

2006 World Cup

In the closing minutes of France's second match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, against South Korea, Zidane was given a yellow card for running into a player late. As a result, he was suspended from the third and final match of the group stage. France nonetheless beat Togo 2-0, allowing Zidane to play in the knockout stage.

In the Round of 16 match against Spain in Hanover on June 27, 2006, Zidane assisted Patrick Vieira on the second goal by sending a free kick in to the penalty area. During stoppage time, he scored the final goal of the match, leading to a 3-1 victory. The win booked Zidane and France's date with defending champions Brazil in the quarter-finals of the tournament.

On 1 July 2006, France beat favoured Brazil 1-0 in Frankfurt. Zidane provided the free-kick assist on Thierry Henry's winning goal, and was named Man of the Match by FIFA's Technical Study Group.

On 5 July 2006, France played against Portugal in Munich for the semi-final. Zidane scored a penalty kick against Ricardo, which turned out to be the only goal of the game and saw France through to the final.

2006 World Cup Final

On July 9, 2006, Zidane played his second World Cup final match and scored in the seventh minute from the penalty spot with a chip shot that hit the crossbar before narrowly bouncing behind the goal line. He became one of only four footballers to achieve the feat of scoring in two different World Cup final matches (he scored twice in the 1998 FIFA World Cup final), sharing the honour with Pelé, Paul Breitner, and Vavá.

This goal also made him one of the top goalscorers in World Cup final matches, with 3 goals, tied for first place with Vavá, Geoff Hurst and Pelé. He almost scored a second goal during the first period of extra time but his header was saved by Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Controversy over violent offence

Zinedine Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup Final (animated image, video, alternate video, front angle video)Zidane was sent off for violent conduct after headbutting Italy's defender, Marco Materazzi, in the chest in the 110th minute, after exchanging words while walking down the field. The game ended in a 1-1 draw and Italy won the championship after a penalty kick shootout.

Regarding the substance of the argument, Zidane's agent Alain Migliaccio said, "[Zidane] told me Materazzi said something very serious to him but he wouldn't tell me what." He also told reporters that Zidane planned to speak out about the incident."

Several newspapers have had lipreaders try to interpret what Materazzi said, though they have come up with different interpretations, ranging from racist remarks concerning Zidane and his family, to an inappropriate comment about his wife. Broad consensus of these analyses is that Materazzi spoke in Italian, a language understood by Zidane, and that he gravely insulted Zidane.

According to Milan based La Gazzetta dello Sport, Materazzi admitted that he insulted Zidane, but recounted the incident as follows: "I held his shirt for a few seconds only, then he turned to me and talked to me, jeering.

He looked at me with a huge arrogance and said: 'If you really want my shirt, I'll give it to you afterwards'. I replied with an insult, that's true." He stressed that the insults were "the type [...] that we've heard before so many times on the pitch, and sometimes we don't even notice it".

Responding to reports that he had called Zidane a "dirty terrorist" or "son of a terrorist whore", Materazzi insisted the insult was not racist in nature: "I did not call him a terrorist. I am not a cultured person and I don't even know what an Islamist terrorist is."

He also rejected claims that he had insulted Zidane's mother: "I certainly didn't talk about Zidane's mother because to me the mother is sacred". Zidane's mother Malika had been taken ill to hospital hours before the World Cup final.

Golden Ball award

The day following the final, July 10, 2006, Zidane was awarded the Golden Ball for being voted best player in the 2006 World Cup by a poll of journalists covering the tournament. Zidane received 2,012 votes, ahead of Italy's Fabio Cannavaro (1,977 votes) and Andrea Pirlo (715 votes). Although the polling continued until midnight, most votes were cast during half-time, prior to Zidane being sent off.

Aftermath of the incident

The reaction to the headbutting incident has been mixed. After returning to Paris, the team met with French President Jacques Chirac, who had also attended the game in Berlin. Chirac hailed Zidane as a national hero and proclaimed: "You are a virtuoso, a genius of world football" He added: "You are also a man of heart and conviction. That is why France admires and loves you."

Despite the controversy surrounding Zidane's offence, his main sponsors announced that they would stick with him. Regarding the headbutt itself, an advertising executive stated that the "childish gesture" would give "a more human image of the hero". It would "bring the icon closer to the people".

Not all post-game reaction was positive, however. Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira dubbed Zidane a "monster" for his action, while Italian defender Gianluca Zambrotta described the headbutt as a "spiteful gesture."  Moreover, some French newspapers condemned the headbutt.

Le Figaro called the headbutt "odious" and said Zidane's "unacceptable gesture was sanctioned properly."  On the Monday after the final, an editorial in popular sports daily L'Equipe questioned how Zidane could explain his action to "millions of children around the world," comparing him to Muhammad Ali but adding that neither Ali, nor Jesse Owens or Pele "broke the rules the way you did."

The newspaper went on to admonish Zidane for failing to console his teammates on the pitch after the loss and said he would have to "explain your gesture to your four sons." On Tuesday, however, the newspaper apologised for Monday's comments. "If they [my words] hurt you, I apologise," editorialist Claude Droussent wrote on the front-page.

Protaganist's comments

Materazzi acknowledged he insulted Zidane, who he called his "hero," without giving specifics.

"I didn't say anything to him about racism, religion or politics," Materazzi said. "I didn't talk about his mother, either. I lost my mother when I was 15 and even now I still get emotional talking about her."

On French television in an interview on Wednesday, Zidane didn't indicate what Materazzi said, but went on to say the insults related to his mother and sister.

On July 20 both players will give their explanations during a hearing of the FIFA disciplinary committee.

Zidane repeated the "he felt no regret about his outburst because that would mean (Materazzi) was right to say all that."

He concluded with : "My act is unforgivable, but they must also punish the true guilty party, and the guilty party is the one who provokes."


With the French national team:

  • FIFA World Cup

    • Winner: 1998

    • Runner Up: 2006

    • Appearances: 1998, 2002, 2006

  • European Championship

    • Winner: 2000

    • Appearances: 1996, 2000, 2004

With Juventus F.C.:

  • Italian League - Serie A champions (scudetto): 1996/1997, 1997/1998

  • European Super Cup: 1996

  • Intercontinental Cup: 1996

  • Italian Super Cup: 1997

With Real Madrid:

  • Spanish Super Cup: 2001, 2003

  • UEFA Champions League: 2001/2002

  • Intercontinental Cup: 2002

  • Spanish League - La Liga champions: 2002/2003

  • European Super Cup: 2002

Personal honours:

  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 1998, 2000, 2003

  • European Footballer of the Year (Ballon d'Or): 1998

  • UEFA Champions League Most Valuable Player: 2001-02

  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll (Best European player of the past 50 years): 2004

  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball Award: 2006

Personal Life

Zidane's first name is Arabic for "ornament of the faith", while his family name is Arabic for "increases/grows the faith".

His wife, Véronique Zidane, is a former dancer and model of Spanish origin. They married in 1993 and have four sons named Enzo, Luca, Théo and Elyaz. Zidane describes himself as a "non-practicing Muslim". Allegations that Zidane's father was a harki, or Algerian supporter of French rule, have been denied by Zidane himself.


  • The nickname Zizou was given to Zidane when he played for Bordeaux in the mid-1990s.

  • Yaz - for Yazid, his middle name - is another of Zidane's nicknames, given to him by his brothers and used by his family and close friends.

  • When Zidane came back from international retirement, in August 2005, he was reinstated as captain of the French national team, where he wears squad number 10. At Real Madrid he wore squad number 5.

  • In an interview Zidane declared that when he was a teenager, he admired Olympique de Marseille's Uruguayan playmaker Enzo Francescoli (after whom he named his eldest son). He once was a ballboy at a match with Francescoli and thus saw him up close.

  • He was an Athens 2004 Torchbearer.

  • In 2004, Zinedine Zidane was appointed as "Chevalier" (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur by French President Jacques Chirac.

  • The first penalty kick Zidane ever missed for France was during his last match in a French stadium, while playing a friendly game against China in Saint-Étienne, June 7, 2006, the last preparation game for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, where he accidentally slid and placed the ball above the goal.

  • Zidane's first hat-trick was against Espanyol in La Liga 2006 with Real Madrid.

  • The assist for Thierry Henry's goal against Brazil in the 2006 FIFA World Cup quarter-final was Zidane's first in 53 games for his teammate. The game ended 1-0.

  • Zidane scored the only goal of the game, a penalty, in France's semi-final win over Portugal in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It was the team's eighth consecutive successful spot-kick. Zidane also scored a penalty kick against Portugal in the semi-final of Euro 2000.

  • Zidane shares his birthday with former French teammate Patrick Vieira.

  • Zidane is known to be modest, quiet and admittedly shy. However, Zidane has occasionally shown a quick temper on the pitch. One such display occurred in a 2000/2001 Champions League match between Juventus Turin and Hamburger SV, in which Zidane headbutted Jochen Kientz; he received a red card for this action.

    He also received a red card and a two-game suspension for stomping on Saudi Arabia's team captain Fuad Amin in the 1998 World Cup, allegedly in response to an insult. In extra time of the 2006 World Cup final, he was sent off for head-butting Italy's Marco Materazzi. Overall, he was sent off 14 times in his career.

  • Zidane was not the first player to be sent off in a World Cup final match (three others preceeded him in that), nor was he the first to sent off in two World Cup tournaments (Rigobert Song from Cameroon was the first, in 1998), but Zidane was the first to be sent off during extra time.

  • Zidane was sponsored by LEGO for a while and wore its logo. He was the official endorser of the company's Soccer/Football line, and was also immortalised in plastic in the form of a LEGO minifigure of himself, available in several of the sets.

    He is also sponsored by adidas, who supply him with Predator football boots and gear. Other sponsorship deals have included Danone, Generali, Orange, Audi, Ford and Christian Dior. During the 2005/2006 season, sponsorship deals like this earned him €8.6 million, on top of his €6.4 million Real Madrid salary.

: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the
Wikipedia article "Zinedine Zidane".



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